American Travel Market to Make Fla. Debut in Oct.

By Henry Magenheim

NORWALK, Conn. -- The Oct. 23 to 25 American Travel Market, a combined trade show and travel industry forum, has sold more than 90% of its booth space, according to Howard Friedman, industry vice president for Reed Travel Exhibitions here, the show's organizer.

When the annual show makes its debut in Florida at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Friedman said, in terms of size it will duplicate that of the World Travel Market when that show made its debut 17 years ago in London. The Florida event will encompass about 45,000 square feet of space at the convention center, which has been expanded to handle much larger functions. The World Travel Market in London grew from that size over the years to more than 300,000 square feet, Friedman noted.

In Florida, approximately 400 exhibitors will be meeting with 3,500 U.S.-based agent and tour operator buyers, Friedman said, who will be coming from 37 states. Additional buyers will be arriving from 11 foreign nations. Suppliers will be extending offers available only to agents attending the show, Friedman said. These offers include valuable giveaways, preferred client rates or complimentary or discounted travel for the agent.

So far, 55 international tourist boards will be represented , including popular destinations for Americans such as Bermuda, Switzerland, Spain, New York, Las Vegas and Wyoming. Officials from Paraguay, Hungary, and Zimbabwe will be there as well, he said. "Because destinations such as these do not employ extensive sales forces in the U.S., their presence in Orlando enables agents to learn about them and to make contacts," Friedman said. In fact, he suggested that Orlando agents should bring their loyal clients to the final four-hour segment of the show which will be open to the public. No direct bookings will take place during the public session, he said.

Exhibitors at the Florida show are in the process of completing a Meridian Club roster, identifying those agents already registered who they feel are most valued. Meridian Club agents will have an exclusive meeting period with suppliers and they will have the option to attend some functions not open to other agents, Friedman said. The Meridian Club concept is in use at the World Travel Market, he noted.

Whether an agent is nominated for the Meridian Club or not, those social functions and seminars that are open to all attendees should be very rewarding, Friedman said. The social events include a reception at the Orlando-Sanford Airport sponsored by the Turks & Caicos, and others staged at Sea World of Florida and Universal Studios Florida.

The seminars include one on Oct. 24 devoted to more effective marketing, staged by the Association of Travel Marketing Executives. Others on Oct. 24 are devoted to family travel and adventure travel. In addition, on Oct. 25, Travelers with Disabilities Awareness Day will include information on how to market to both disabled and mature travelers. The two-hour session will be run by the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped and Open World magazine. Another two-hour presentation, Cultural Travel, also on Oct. 25, will be devoted to Africa's culture and history with a focus on Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. It is sponsored by the Africa Travel Association and Africa Travel magazine.

A few organizations also will be holding meetings during the Market dates for their members, and some of these may be open to agents. These groups include ARTA, ARC, the Outside Sales Support Network, and British Incoming Tour Operators Association.

The nine tourism ministers who belong to the Middle Eastern Mediterranean Tourism Association (MEMTA) will receive the World Tourism Prize sponsored by American Express and the American Travel Market, with support from the Steuben and Corning crystal glass concerns. The ministers will be honored for "building peace through tourism," Friedman said.

Pre- and post-Market fam tours are available to the Florida Space Coast and the Lee Island Coast (Fort Myers area), and cruises will be provided by Carnival and Cape Canaveral Cruise Line. During the Market, delegates will be granted free admission to Church Street Station, a downtown Orlando entertainment center.


Agents not yet preregistered for the American Travel Market may do so by calling (800) 363-3631 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EDT) weekdays, or (203) 840-5626. Preregistration is free. Agents attending the American Travel Market may use their AD-75 reduced fares on most airlines serving Orlando. Suppliers are offered discounts on USAirways if they request Gold File No. 94190163. For information on remaining booth space, call Memi Faustini, sales manager of Reed Travel Exhibitions, at (203) 840-5536.

Hotels around the Orange County Convention Center extending reduced rates for delegates are nearly sold out. Agents needing rooms should contact the Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau's Housing Bureau at (800) 258-7666. Official hotels are the Omni Rosen (headquarters hotel), Marriott Orlando I-Drive, Clarion Plaza, Country Hearth Inn, Sheraton World Resort and La Quinta. American Travel Market is supplying a shuttle between the official hotels, the convention center and all social events.

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